Prepare For Your Queenslander Renovation

Prepare For Your Queenslander Renovation Hamilton

Prepare For Your Queenslander Renovation Hamilton


Ready to renovate? The first question homeowners often ask is, ‘How do you prepare for your Queenslander renovation?’ In general, depending on your individual circumstances, moving out of your home provides a much smoother renovation process for both the builder and the homeowners. There are a number of reasons for this, but at the end of the day, the choice is yours to make. Let’s look at the pros and cons of both staying and leaving. 

Can you live in the house during construction?

It is not always possible to live in a home during a renovation or extension. Each home renovation project poses unique challenges. Allow for a minimum of six months for a minor extension and up to 18 months for a full renovation where you are lifting and building in under the house. The average renovation time is around 10 months. This includes painting and landscaping.

As a young architect Jan Hogarth, principal architect at PlaceMate Architects completed her first Queenslander renovation. A friend had entrusted their home in the leafy suburb of Chapel Hill to her when they wanted to create a garden room off the side of the main house. Many years on, they still own the property and the garden room is still a much loved oasis.

Jan has seen many homeowners navigate this all-important transition. In 1000+ projects, she has only seen a handful of families that have done it well. Depending on the size and scope of your renovation, you may find yourselves ‘camping’ for over a year. This is a deeply personal choice. Asking yourself the following questions can help you decide what works best for you and your family.

Front steps and appliances removed for renovation

Front steps and appliances removed for renovation


Can your entry and living area be segregated from the site?

Legally, you can’t actually live on a building site unless you’re the builder. However, you may be able to inhabit part of the site. Check with your architect or builder. Here are baseline legal requirements that are set out in the Brisbane City Plan 2014.

Will living on a building site drive you crazy? 

Renting premises can be expensive, so staying at home looks like it would save a mot-zah. But be warned! It’s super stressful to have builders coming to your house at 7am, 6 days a week (from Monday to Saturday). The intrusive noise of nail guns, sanders, and other grinding tools; plus the builder’s choice of a radio station, may tip you over the edge.

  • If you are staying onsite, everything you own must be carefully packed and stored in a sealed area of the home which is not being renovated. Once the renovation is completed your home can be reopened. 
Kitchen Outdoor Living Before Queenslander Renovation

Kitchen Outdoor Living Before Queenslander Renovation


What about the dust?

  • A Queenslander renovation is always dirty, disruptive, and takes longer than you think. The long-term extended camping experience on a construction site is not for everyone. There is no privacy and no kitchen to speak of. You will be largely working out of a makeshift ‘camp kitchen’. It’s so much cheaper to stay BUT, it will be dusty every day. 
  • Moving out for the duration of the renovation is the builders’ preferred option. Greg Watson, from Tom Ryan Builders, advises homeowners against staying in the home during a major renovation. 

    With Queenslander renovations we prepare the site by clearing debris, trees, or rocks, and levelling the ground,’ says Greg. 

    The Brisbane City Plan 2014 defines this filling and excavation work, “as the removal or importation of material to, from, or within a lot that will change the ground level of the land.”

    It’s dirty work from the get-go! As Jan says, 

  • “It will definitely be cheaper because you don’t have to pay rent, BUT, IT DRIVES MOST OWNERS INSANE!!”
Kitchen After Queenslander Renovation

Kitchen After Queenslander Renovation


Can you live with service interruptions?

  • During the renovation process, the power, internet, and other services may be cut off for the whole day or days on end. Not many homeowners enjoy this. However, if you can arrange to be offsite from 6am to 6pm, it may be possible. This arrangement can work if you are both executives with teenage children and the dirt doesn’t bother you. 

What about people and pet safety?

For those homeowners living with seniors, small children, and special needs family members, the inherent dangers of living in your home during construction are heightened. You need to be hyper vigilant when everything is dusty, dirty, and new potential dangers present themselves every single day. Recognising the risks family members and pets face on a construction site is highly important when deciding to stay in your home during construction.

Resources for Family Safety:

Do your own due diligence. There’s a lot at stake, so we’ve included some resources to help you understand the risks for people and pets more fully.

US website Bigrentz recommends hyper-vigilance and highlights the many considerations for homeowners when navigating the hazards on a construction site. Ensuring pet safety during building is vital. Pets require another level of care as their safe space is threatened during the home renovation process. 

Family members living on a construction site also pose a greater risk for the builder who must also consider workplace health and safety. Another great resource to read before you start is QBCC Homeowners Guide To Building and Renovating.


Hallway Before Queenslander RenovationHallway After Renovation

Moving Out For The Duration

Wise choice! This is the builders preferred option. It offers:

Better control of workplace health and safety;

The builder control over the worksite; and

Makes the build quicker, safer, and more cost-effective.


How to Prepare For Your Queenslander Renovation

Let’s start outside! Everything on the ground surface must be removed… Yes, everything! That includes items stored under the house too. 

Cull by asking yourself, “Does this item fit in my beautiful new home?”

Can you store items in a sealed area within the worksite? Discuss the pros and cons with your builder to help you decide if this is possible and/or advisable.

Do you have a room where no construction work is being done that can also be secured? Using dust sheets to cover bulky furniture, along with storage boxes and tubs to store smaller items, can help keep your personal items safe. 

It’s important to store your valuables safely offsite. 

Self-storage is costly; so often a potential saving is packing, covering, and locking the bulk items in rooms of the house that won’t be touched during the build. Friends and family may also be able to help with temporary and/or long-term offsite storage. 

Everything on the ground surface must be removed – yes, everything!

Sort and edit all of your belongings first. It will greatly lighten the load and as you navigate the building process. Sort items in a particular order by category, not by room, says the KonMari Method. It describes how to keep what you love and to release the rest. 

Kitchen Living Areas Before Renovation

Kitchen Living Areas Before Renovation


Don’t bother cleaning. During construction, everything under the house, under scaffolding and within 3m of house will be obliterated.

If you have a precious plant or tree that you want to keep, such as a heritage Camelia bush, it will need to be specified in the contract with a fine stated for its destruction. 

Ask the builder where is the safest area in the garden to store the jumping castle, etc. Follow their guidance on what outdoor items can stay and which should go into storage. 

Also, discuss suitable options if you want to separate or protect the existing landscaping during your Queenslander renovation. Discuss restrictions on planting with your builder and landscaper. Determining the earliest timeline for the landscaping will avoid having to wait an extra growing season. 

Survival tactics of the owners we know who lived in their home while  renovating

Here’s how past owners who chose to live in their homes during construction, were successful:

  1. The layout of the site allowed owners and builders to have completely separate access zones such as separate side entries and separate living levels. This relieved the builders’ anxieties about workplace health and safety.
  2. Safety is key! People with young children thoroughly discussed living in the home with their builders.  Building sites are dangerous places, with sharp objects, dirty things, uneven surfaces and places to fall.
  3. They weren’t at home much during the day; leaving as the builders arrived and returning after they left. 
  4. They took extended holidays during the build so they could sleep in occasionally.
  5. They were laid-back and regarded the experience as a kind of long camping adventure.
  6. They packed up their belongings and kept the furniture to a minimum.
  7. They set up the verandah as a camp kitchen.
  8. Used off-site bathrooms at the gym, work, friends, and family.
  9. They took clothes to the laundromat.
  10. They ignored dust, mud, and dirt for months.
  11. They climbed ladders and muddy planks for fun.
  12. They accepted delays and changes as a natural part of life.
  13. They built part of the work themselves; even if that was just painting and assembling the flat-pack kitchen.

It is one of the great joys of life watching your own dream home come alive (ask anyone at PlaceMate). And, many a child is fascinated by builders and everything they do (ask any builder). 

Kitchen Living Areas After Renovation

Kitchen Living Areas After Renovation

Congratulations! You made it!

Right now you may be feeling like you will never get to the end of the renovation process. The small decisions that you make now will smooth the journey and make it more enjoyable for you. Once the renovation is complete and you can fully appreciate your achievement, take a moment to reflect and enjoy!

Was it worth it? Our experience suggests that you will be more than happy once your project is completed and you and your family have moved back into your newly renovated home.

Our principal architect Jan Hogarth, has experienced all of the highs and lows of the renovation process. Request a site visit once you decide to renovate or extend so that PlaceMate Architects can help you to fully prepare for your Queenslander renovation process.